Chaparral yucca
Hesperoyucca whipplei

Physical Description

  • Cluster of long, rigid leaves ending in a sharp point
  • Leaf edges have fine saw-toothing
  • Flower spike is about 10-15 feet high, made up of hundreds of tiny bell-shaped flowers
  • Flowers are purple or white

Range

  • Monterey, California to northern Baja California, Mexico

Habitat

  • Chaparral, coastal sage scrub, oak woodlands
  • Grows in sand and clay soils
  • Elevations of 985 to 8000 feet

Diet

  • Like all plants, it gets its energy from the sun

Predators

  • Exclusively pollinated by the California yucca moth. The symbiotic relationship allows the plants to be pollinated and the yucca moth’s larvae to have food.
  • California thrashers, deer, rats, and other birds eat the plant
  • Kumeyaay Native Americans used the Chaparral yucca for food and as fiber for cloth, sandals, and rope. 

Interesting Facts

  • Also called foothill yucca, Spanish bayonet, and Our Lord’s Candle because of its flower
  • The yucca takes 5-10 years to mature, then grows the 10-foot tall flower spike in only two weeks! 
  • After pollination, flower dies but will stay upright for many years afterwards

Sources: California Native Plant Society; Writing For Nature

Photo: Beth Besom

See the Chaparral yucca and other native plants in the Native Plant Garden at Living Coast Discovery Center!

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